In Depth Analysis: CalculatedRisk Newsletter on Real Estate (Ad Free) Read it here.

Friday, May 06, 2022

AAR: April Rail Carloads and Intermodal Down Year-over-year

by Calculated Risk on 5/06/2022 03:46:00 PM

From the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Rail Time Indicators. Graphs and excerpts reprinted with permission.

U.S. rail traffic in April 2022 was like a box of assorted chocolates: it had something for everyone. Optimists can point to several commodities that had solid traffic gains. For example, April 2022 was the third best month ever for carloads of chemicals, with carloads up 3.4% over last year. April’s carloads of iron and steel scrap were the highest since August 2013, while carloads of autos and auto parts were up 12.0% over last year. Carloads of food products and crushed stone and sand were also up.

Pessimists can point to several traffic categories with lower volumes in April. For example, carloads of grain in April were the fewest in seven months, coal carloads were the lowest in more than a year, and carloads of petroleum products were their second lowest since September 2017.
emphasis added
Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image.

This graph from the Rail Time Indicators report shows the six-week average of U.S. Carloads in 2020, 2021 and 2022:
Total carloads on U.S. railroads fell 3.4% in April 2022 from April 2021, their second monthly decline so far this year following 10 straight monthly gains from March to December 2021. For 2022 through April, total carloads were up 1.1% over the same period in 2021.
Rail TrafficThe second graph shows the six-week average (not monthly) of U.S. intermodal in 2020, 2021 and 2022: (using intermodal or shipping containers):
U.S. railroads originated an average of 270,788 intermodal containers and trailers per week in April 2022. That’s the most since August 2021, but down 7.7% from April 2021. For context, April 2021 was the best intermodal month in history for U.S. railroads.